By Derek DeBurger

The No. 21 Louisville Cardinals are on a bye week this week after starting the season 6-1.

The most recent game against Pittsburgh may have been disheartening, but there’s still a lot left that Louisville could accomplish this season. To make up for the lack of a game day, I’m taking this week to let you know which games impact the Cards this season.

College Football Playoffs? 

With the loss to Pitt, Louisville is virtually eliminated from the College Football playoffs this year.

Louisville’s strength of schedule, which is currently ranked 64th by Jeff Sagarin, is not going to be an impressive enough resume. The only real chance the Cards have at making the playoffs in the last year of the four-team format is if almost every team with a better or same record, and every team currently ranked above the Cards in the AP Poll, lose one or more games.

Chaos is just about the only path forward. If you want to root for chaos more power to you — but I’m not holding my breath.

ACC Title Game

A scenario that is very much still in play for the Cards is a berth in the ACC Championship.

Generally, the two teams with the best conference record compete in the title game. If there is a tie in records, then head-to-head winning percentages determine selection. If that doesn’t solve it, then the winning percentage against common opponents is used. If that still doesn’t solve it, then the in-conference winning percentage against the conference opponents played is used.

If all of that somehow doesn’t narrow it down to two teams, the ACC commissioner Jim Phillips will draw names out of a hat.

The current Atlantic Coast Conference standings as of week 8. (W-L = Win/Loss; PF = Points For; PA = Points Against) Photo Courtesy // ESPN

The loss to Pitt complicates this — Louisville is now 3-1 in ACC play, but the Cards are currently sitting at fourth in the ACC standings behind No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 North Carolina, and No. 16 Duke. All the teams currently ranked above the Cards are undefeated in ACC play, but Duke plays Florida State, North Carolina, and Louisville this season. There’s a chance that Duke could knock off Florida State and North Carolina and then lose to Louisville.

While this would help the Cards, it would mainly serve to muddy the waters.

Say Duke does upset Florida State and North Carolina but loses to Louisville. That would only serve to even up Louisville, Florida State, and North Carolina in the standings because of the common opponent in Pittsburgh. Florida State has yet to play Pitt, but I doubt they’ll have the same shortcomings as the Cards in that matchup.

Louisville at this point doesn’t control its own destiny in the ACC, so there are so many games that are important to the Cards this season.

This week of the college football season there are five ACC games, and all of them are potentially important. Listed below are the games and who fans should root to win to give the Cardinals the best chance to stay on top of the conference standings.

Boston College plays at Georgia Tech; root for Georgia Tech;

Pittsburgh plays at Wake Forest; root for Pittsburgh;

Virginia plays at No. 10 North Carolina; root for Virginia;

No. 16 Duke plays at No. 4 Florida State; root for Duke;

Clemson plays at Miami; root for Miami.

Louisville does not have Clemson, Wake Forest, or Syracuse on their schedule this year, so for every game they play Cards fans need to root against them. That is, unless they’re playing Florida State, North Carolina, or Duke. Every game Florida State, North Carolina, or Duke plays Cards fans need to root against them.

If it sounds really complicated it’s only because it is really complicated, but there’s still hope. And hope can be a hell of a drug.

The Cardinals will play their next game on Saturday, Oct. 28 against the No. 16 Duke Blue Devils.

Photo Courtesy // Taris Smith, Louisville Athletics